J&K: sharp rise in infiltration worrying

J&K: sharp rise in infiltration worrying

The sharp rise in infiltration of militants into India from across the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan is worrying. According to Home Ministry data, over 300 infiltrations were reported from across the LoC in 2017, the highest in the past four years. Ceasefire violations, too, soared last year, up from 153 four years ago to 228 in 2016 and 820 in 2017. Around 335 terror-related incidents occurred in Jammu and Kashmir last year. Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju is reported to have blamed Pakistani frustration and desperation for the increase in infiltration. There is truth in what he said. Pakistan is known to infiltrate militants into Jammu and Kashmir under cover of artillery fire and it is likely that its military, keen to stir up trouble for India in the Kashmir Valley, accelerated the number of militants it infiltrated last year.

However, while the government does keep up the heat on Pakistan on the matter, it is important that it also looks into possible failures on our side that have helped the infiltrators and their sponsors. Infiltrations may have increased, for instance, due to lax security along the LoC. India needs to find out if more infiltrations occurred last year because of gaps in the security fence along the LoC. The fence may be in need of repair or upgrading. Perhaps soldiers guarding the LoC are in need of better equipment to monitor the LoC more effectively. It is likely, too, that rising anger in the Valley following the government's rather harsh handling of the stone-pelting protesters prompted Kashmiri youth to cross over to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, who are then trained and infiltrated back to carry out attacks. The Ministry of Home Affairs needs to give thought to these issues and act on them. Blaming Pakistan's "frustration" will not make India safe.

The rise in infiltrations indicates that Pakistan continues to help anti-India militants cross the LoC into the Valley. Clearly, the 'surgical strikes' India carried out in September 2016 on terror camps in PoK have not served to deter Pakistan or prompt it to rethink its support to anti-India terrorism. The surgical strikes may have shocked and stunned Pakistan, even embarrassed its military, but in the long run it is dialogue that India must pursue to improve relations with Pakistan. Importantly, Delhi must address the grievances of the Kashmiri people and seek a political settlement there. If India can win the support of the Kashmiri people, infiltration attempts would not be successful and militants crossing into Jammu and Kashmir would be isolated.  The Home ministry's infiltration figures provide useful pointers for India's next steps in Kashmir.  

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